The ‘Other’ Christmas Plants
Poinsettias may gain the most attention in December, but you can dress your home for the holidays—inside and out—with several other unique and colourful plants that look amazing at this time of year. If you’re looking for something unexpected to give to the loved ones on your list, the following plants also make terrific gifts, too!
Christmas Cactus: True Christmas cacti are known scientifically as Schlumbergera spp., and they are both easy to grow and long-lived. Some families have passed their Christmas cacti down for generations. They even clean toxins out of the air in your home! Keep Christmas cacti in the brightest indirectly-lit spot you can, and keep them at a comfortable humidity level with a mister or pebble tray.
Christmas Ferns: Bring on the texture and colour! These uniquely variegated ferns keep their lush, moss-like foliage all year long. Keep them lightly moist and in a bright, indirectly-lit location.
Norfolk Island Pines: Ready to break from tradition? These durable, layered trees—which, despite their appearance, are not real pines—hold ornaments perfectly and make excellent indoor Christmas trees. They are low maintenance, long-lived and easy to grow. Over time, they can grow up to 6 feet or more! Place them in bright, indirect light.
Rosemary and Lavender Cones: These lovely plants feature fragrant foliage that you can dress up for the holidays! Add a sprig to recipes or cocktails to add wonderful aromas and flavours to your holiday favourites. Both rosemary and lavender need full to part sun. Water your plant thoroughly, but don’t water again until the soil is lightly moist—they don’t like wet feet, especially at this time of year. Rosemary is not hardy, so it must be kept sheltered. Both plants should be brought in during cold snaps. You can keep them in containers or plant them in the garden.
For the Garden
Helleborus niger: Also known as the ‘Christmas Rose’ for their pure white, December-blooming flowers. There are now many amazing varieties of Helleborus niger available to brighten up your garden (and feed the bees!) from November to March. Hellebores are suitable for larger containers. They prefer part sun to shade and good, well-drained soil. Their blooms make terrific cut flowers for bouquets!
‘Yuletide’ Camellias: These jolly camellias feature rich red blooms with bright golden centers, and bloom in late fall to early winter. ‘Yuletide’ is truly a remarkable evergreen shrub for the garden. The shrub must be planted in a sheltered, partly sunny spot in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Hummingbirds love them!
Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’: Known as ‘False Holly,’ this uniquely variegated evergreen shrub is perfectly at-home in larger containers or the garden. If you’re looking to break from the traditional holly look, and for something that blends with an array of colours, look no further! Plant Osmanthus in a location with full to part sun, and well-drained soil.
Wintergreen: Plump, bright red gaultheria berries are edible—in fact, they taste like mint! The ‘wintergreen’ flavour actually comes from these berries, so they really are perfect for the holidays. These evergreen shrubs have a compact habit and are happiest in well-drained, acidic soil, in partly sunny to shady spots. Newer varieties come in pink and white, too!
Violas & Pansies: Want to “wow” guests at your next holiday party? Viola and pansy blooms are edible, so keep a few in your garden to add to your plate! Admittedly, they may not be very ‘Christmas-y,’ but their cheery colours are perfectly fitting for the most wonderful time of the year.
Plants for Décor
Mistletoe: No plastic here; these stems are the real deal! The pretty berries and foliage look just as romantic as legend might have you think. Store mistletoe stems in a cool, humid location to help them last their longest.
To be fair, we’re still big fans of poinsettias (they really are stunning!), but we feel these wonderful plants ought to have some attention too. Come in to see them up close, and find many other great ‘garden gift’ candidates too!